What is Software Quality Assurance and why shouldn’t the developers do the testing
20 February 2019
People who work as Software Quality Assurance engineers make sure that engineers deliver a software product that is error-free and smooth to use. On the other hand, some people believe that the job of a QA expert is useless, and it only slows down the delivering of a product.
Today, at TMS, we decided to look into this isue more in-depth. Is it true or is the job of a Software Quality Assurance expert more important than anything?
Table of contents
- Defining Software Quality Assurance
- Is Software Quality Assurance important?
- How does Software Quality Assurance work?
- Is there a reason why developers shouldn’t do the testing?
Defining Software Quality Assurance
SQA (also known as QA), short from Software Quality Assurance, represents a complex process that involves testing a software product so that it meets the requirements and specifications that were defined and standardized earlier in the process.
The Software Quality Assurance process is a continuous one that tests the software product in its entire life cycle (SDCL). The process is a routine one that helps engineers make sure that the product is well-build and error-free.
Is Software Quality Assurance important?
When it comes to what is QA, the question can be rapidly answered: it ensures that a software product was developed in a high-quality manner. The practices present in SQA can be implemented in almost all types of software development, not taking into account the model which is used for it.
To make it clearer, SQA testing is essential for each development phase of a software product until its final release. Without SQA, the software development process would be continued until the end, ignoring the errors that may have appeared in one of these phases. With the help of a QA engineer, this problem does not occur, and errors are corrected on time.
The quality of the product is checked
Quality assurance testing is highly necessary to ensure that the product meets the standards and it is fully operational, no bugs, glitches or errors included. If these are found in an earlier process, they can be fixed on time and the risk of failure is reduced tremendously.
Saving money and time
When fixing bugs in an early stage of the process, additional expenses and a lot of wasted hours are saved. A fully failed software will cost the team a lot more to fix and it might require starting from scratch.
Improving the UX
The User Experience is a critical factor when developing software applications. UX issues must be fixed earlier in the process so that users don’t get to experience them with the final product. An SQA engineer makes sure that such issue is never encountered, and using the software app is easy and intuitive.
Improving customer satisfaction
The same goes for customer satisfaction. A software QA engineer will make sure that the user is happy with the final product. If the user finds the product reliable and easy to use, it was a success.
Organizing the activities better
Software quality assurance makes sure that the whole software development process is well-organized. All phases and activities are tested after they are finished, which leaves room for improvements and fixes. Thus, the QA engineers keep the activity efficient and hierarchic.
How does Software Quality Assurance work?
Assessing, analyzing and reporting
A software QA engineer is just as technical as a developer – they both work with numbers. The QA team is yet more capable of quantifying the risk that a software program has, to determine the effectiveness of the current practices that are used and to find the right metrics needed to establish whether the QA resources used are enough. The work of QA engineers will make the process much more rapid, which is what everyone desires.
A QA engineer can use a series of tools to determine the appropriate metrics that influence the final outcome in the software development process. For instance, the number of errors, defect leakage, testing, pass-fail rates and so on. Sharing these metrics with the rest of the development team will contribute to raising the quality of the final product to a maximum.
Feedback and improvement
A quality control engineer is responsible for taking into account the opinion of each team member regarding any flaws or errors that may interfere with launching a product. A bad piece of code or a security gap can demotivate an entire team if sensitive data is not provided in the appropriate manner. The feedback must be carefully offered in order to encourage a quick improvement. Software Quality Assurance engineers are the ones who hold this responsibility entirely.
Involving the development team
QA engineers should not only let development team members know about the issues, but they should actively involve them in the process. Testing should no longer be a separate activity, but a shared one with the DevOps. Developer, analysts, and managers should all work together and keep in mind any issue that is related to quality, which should be immediately returned to the QA team.
Streamlining the testing process
A QA engineer can automate the testing tools so that the process becomes more comprehensive and faster. Automating test cases that don’t require too much attention will allow engineers to focus on what is more important and presents higher risk levels. Efficient testing includes:
- Conducting a larger number of tests in the early stages of development
- For Agile projects, dividing tasks into smaller ones, testing each of them often and providing visibility to all team members
- Using TDD practices and BDD practices which involve a meeting where QA engineers, developers and stakeholders are present to discuss requirements and further actions
- Outsourcing some of the test load for bigger projects to reduce team stress
Is there a reason why developers shouldn’t do the testing?
People wonder why developers are not able to do the job of a Software Quality Assurance engineer. Well, developers must always focus on the project development itself, as deadlines need to be respected. This is why a software team needs its testers:
Testing is for QA engineers only
The skills that are necessary for testing are specialized, which means that regular developers don’t possess them. Developing requires one skill set, while testing requires another. This makes the job suitable just for QA engineers that followed studies in this sense and that understand specific techniques that are not normally used in developing. Testing and offering feedback are two distinct things that shouldn’t be mistaken.
Developers can perform a basic test of the application, but QA testers are the ones who can analyze the programs in depth and take a look at issues that may generate consequences in the future. Testers engage in procedures that are much more complex and specific compared to what developers know.
It takes time
Developers need to focus entirely on the software product in order to respect the given deadlines. Because of that, they can’t afford to waste time with testing or with analyzing small bits of code. This is where QA engineers intervene. Software Quality Assurance is a completely separate department specially because testing takes time and it needs to be treated as another process. Developers can continue their jobs while testing engineers do whatever it takes to see if there are any issues that need fixing. This separation ensures delivering quality software products on time.
Coding and automating are different
A programming language is required to learn how to automate the processes involved in the testing process. Developers should already know how to automate these processes considering that they work with coding every single day. However, testing engineers are the ones who should handle this because coding is just one part of the process. QA engineers need to handle scripts, automation tools, test cases and so on.
Documentation and creating reports
Running tests without properly writing down the information obtained is useless. This is the reason why a Software Quality Assurance engineer must handle documentation and reports. After each sequence that was tested, the QA engineer is supposed to create a comprehensive report related to it, so that the team knows where the project is situated.
The testing mindset
When a developer tries to test his own code, chances are they won’t notice things that can be visibly improved because they are not open to new scenarios. Their mind will only be fixed on the way they built the program. On another hand, testers can offer you a whole new perspective and improve the code tremendously by just taking a look at it, considering that they have an entirely new view on it. The mindset of a tester is exactly what a project needs in order to be improved, even though it is error-free.
No developer team should test its own products, as it is a waste of resources. Software Quality Assurance engineers are the only ones who can determine how good a program is and how it can be improved, all in the shortest time possible and with the smallest amount of resources consumed.